Purple, The Most European of Colors

Increasing I find that while I’m happy to get up for the sunrise, I’m often less than pleased with the results. The vibrant colors that come with the early morning sunrise are increasing dissatisfying. While I can’t quite put my finger on why, purple bugs me the most. While I deal with my issues with purple, the most ‘European’ of colors, I’m trying out many of my images in black and white to see whether they can stand up on there own. I’m not totally sold on this solution but I’d be interested in your opinion of the black and white image above with the color ‘before’ image below.

Contrast Masks: An Initial Foray

The more I photograph the more I become aware of what I want to achieve with a particular photograph. Often when a photograph fails to wow me it’s not because I didn’t get the composition right but rather it is because it doesn’t leap of the page in the way that I think it should. My big struggle has been that I couldn’t quite put my finger on what the problem is it not sharp enough, not saturated enough not enough contrast. What?

I’ve never been much of a student of history but I do enjoy understanding how other people work and what tools they use. Watching the Christopher Burkett video I posted recently there was the mention of his use of contrast masks and the impact these have on his images. So why not give that a go?

Using ‘The Google’ I found this tutorial on the use of digital contrast masks on the luminous landscape website. Just following the tutorial as described I was able to take the image from last week from this:

to this:

Which with some final tweaks becomes this:


What do you think? Seems like an improvement to me.

If something’s worth doing it’s worth doing to excess. I’ve subsequently tried this technique out on 20 or so images with varying degrees of success. The contrast mask, not too surprisingly, reduces contrast which may not be the appropriate fix for all of my images. I’m starting to have a sense of where this technique will work for my photographs, generally for images that I take within 10 – 15 mins of sunrise and will try this out before I do any heavy lifting in photoshop. Try it out for yourself and let me know how things turn out.

Back in the Saddle

After my moment of angst, self-doubt, call it what you will I was back at the beach again recently. I don’t think that I’ve ever managed to be at the beach at exactly the same point in the tide’s cycle and so I’m always surprised by what i find. On this morning there were sand bars that meant the incoming tide would be deep and then very thin giving rise to some interesting contrasts in texture of the water at the shutter speed that I was using. I’ll be back for more.

All Done Here?

I’ve been returning to the same stretch of coastline for the best part of year now, while I continue to enjoy my early morning jaunts, one of my friends suggested that I’ve gotten stuck in a rut. I would argue against that, I am after all making photographs that I particularly enjoy and I don’t feel as though I’m repeating myself. Yet, the rocks are becoming awfully familiar.

So are we all done here? That was the question that was going through my the morning that I made the photo above. It was already much lighter than I like for my photographs but the line of the rock caught my eye and I stuck around to make a few frames.

A Morning at Oak Bluffs

After spending time at Lucy Vincent Beach, other Martha’s Vineyard beaches pale by comparison. That’s not to say that there are interesting images to be had here. I decided to forgo the bandstand in Ocean Park and headed down to the beach. There were a couple of piles of rocks and old pilings at the waters edge that caught my attention. The image above was one of the more successful images.

I’ve Gotten Rusty

Normally the presence of water makes things rusty.  For me, quite the opposite is true.  It’s been a while since I’ve been able to get out with the camera in any serious way and I really felt it this last weekend.  I was surprised that it took me one session to get back into a rhythm.  I sometimes feel like this even when I have been shooting regularly – the first 15 – 20 minutes are essentially me stretching and warming-up so that I can work towards the image that I have in mind.  If anyone has good ideas for a series of ‘stretches’ to make that first few moments on location more productive I’d be happy to hear them.

Fortunately the weather held out while I was at the beach which meant that I was able to get a few sessions in and came away with at least one image I was happy with.

No Excuses

For photography, perhaps more than anything thing else I’m involved in, having a group of people who can give you solid feedback when you ask for it, applaud when you’ve done well, and give you a kick in the pants from time to time is absolutely critical.  These need not be accomplished photographers themselves but people who are going to give you a relatively unbiased opinion, who want to help you succeed and will hold you accountable.  To those people in my life thank you!

Look What You’re Missing!

As the days get longer I’m finding it increasingly difficult to get up for sunrise shoots.  I’m not sure that there’s really a cure for that other than sheer dogged determination to get up and get going, something I was reminded the other day as being the hallmark of a true professional.  It’s not hard to understand the motivation to get up and get going when you are often treated to glorious sunrises such as the one I was greeted with on a recent visit to what has become one of my favorite beaches.  This shot and others like it are posted in prominent places around my home and every morning I don’t get up for a morning shoot they scream ‘look what you’re missing!’.

Morning Light

I’ve been continue to work on photographing the seashore and in particular rocks in the water.  As summer approaches sunrise gets ever earlier, making it increasing unlikely that I will hit my self imposed goal of being on location an hour before sunrise.  I enjoy being on location while it is still dark and waiting for the right light.  On this particular morning I was on location 30 minutes before sunrise, with it being almost sunrise by the time I got a shot that I liked.  Once the sun appeared on the horizon I felt it was too bright to make the photographs that I was looking to make and I headed for home and breakfast.

Sunrise on Glacial Erractics

One of the beaches that we went to when I first moved to Boston’s south shore is littered with large rocks.   They are an odd sight on an otherwise normal shoreline and were certainly something of a curiosity for me, having never seen anything like them before.  They are  glacial erratics, rocks that are out of place in terms of size and shape for the other rocks found in that area and that were transported as part of a glacier.  I’m quite taken with these as subjects for my photos, which means I’ll return frequently until I’ve had my fill.  It could be quite a while.

On this particular morning I had been trying out some wider views.  I walked away to see whether I could get an image of a single rock and as I walked back down the beach I saw the image shown above.